Divrei Torah


One of the sections of the Torah reading deals with “a plague of Tzara’as - that is discovered in the walls of one’s home. The owner comes to the Kohein because only the Kohein can declare the home pure or impure. Before coming to the home, the Kohein orders everything removed from the home because anything that is in the home when the Kohein declares it impure would also become impure.

The Kohein closes the house for seven days. At the end of seven days, the Kohein once again checks the house. If the נגע – the affliction had spread, the afflicted stones must be removed, the surrounding edges scraped, and that area plastered. If the affliction was unchanged, the house remains quarantined for another week. If the affliction had spread at the end of the 2nd week or there was no change at the end of the 2nd week, the same procedure of stone removal, scraping and plastering of the walls takes place.

In any of these three cases, after the afflicted stones were removed, the area scraped and the walls plastered, the Kohein checks the house one more time the following week. If the affliction returned, the house must be demolished. If the affliction did not return, the house is declared pure. 

Rashi has a fascinating insight into the plague that affected the houses. He quotes from the Midrash that the afflictions of the houses came upon the Jewish people in the Land of Israel because the Amorites hid treasures in the walls of their homes. As a result of the affliction, the owners would tear down the walls and find the treasures. 

The word for plague is “Nega” spelled “nun”, gimel” and “ayin”. However, if one takes those same letters and rearranges them, one has the word “Oneg” – enjoyment or pleasure – a complete reversal of the word “Nega”. The same object or idea that can be a “Nega” can also be an “Oneg”. It depends upon how one views the matter. Do I look at the spots on the walls and say to myself, “Oh no, there is a plague”, or do I see the hidden blessing – the treasures that are present? Do I take a negative view of matters – it is a “Nega” or do I take a positive view of matters - it is  an “Oneg”? 

This coming week we will be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day. If one wants, it is no challenge to find negative in the State of Israel. It can be easy to see a “Nega”. However, King David commanded us to do the opposite – make it an “Oneg” – “See in the good of Jerusalem” – look at all the positive that is present in the State of Israel and there is so much positive. 

In all that we do, we can infuse positive energy and see results as an Oneg, or we can put negative energy and create a Nega. The Jewish people will be much better off seeing our bottles as half-full as opposed to half-empty. See life the “Oneg” and not the “Nega”.